Published May 14, 2011
CINCINNATI – Brandon Phillips hit a bases-loaded double in the seventh inning Sunday that ended Chris Carpenter's outing and his five-year streak of beating the Cincinnati Reds, who held on for a 9-7 victory and three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Reds' first home sweep of the Cardinals since September 2007 left them alone atop the NL Central, a game and a half ahead.
Carpenter (1-3) hadn't lost to the Reds since June 6, 2006, winning his last 10 decisions against them. Phillips, despised by the Cardinals for his demeaning remarks last season, got the decisive hit.
Trailing 4-2 in the seventh, the Cardinals intentionally walked National League MVP Joey Votto and let Carpenter face Phillips with the bases loaded. His double made it 6-2 and ended Carpenter's outing. Jay Bruce followed with a two-run double off Trever Miller.
Left-hander Travis Wood (3-3) gave up back-to-back solo homers by Lance Berkman and Yadier Molina in the second inning, but little else against the NL's most prolific lineup.
The Reds' bullpen let most of a 9-2 lead get away.
Aroldis Chapman walked four of the five batters he faced in the ninth, extending his streak of wildness. Nick Masset gave up a two-run double by Ryan Theriot that cut it to 9-5. Francisco Cordero came on with one out and gave up a two-run double to Nick Punto before finishing it off for his seventh save in eight chances.
It ended with a little more drama. After Cordero fanned Berkman to end it, he exchanged words with some of the Cardinals and waved at their dugout before lining up to shake hands with teammates.
Cincinnati's starting lineup had a combined .211 average against Carpenter, who went 5-0 against the Reds last season and was a big reason for the Cardinals' 12-6 record against them.
Pitching in a steady rain on a 55-degree afternoon, he lost his hold on a team starting to find its stride. The defending NL Central champions have won nine of their last 11, moving a season-high six games over .500 at 23-17. Cincinnati's 1½-game lead is its biggest since April 17.
The sweep left the Reds 4-2 against St. Louis this season.
Phillips spiced the rivalry last season by calling the Cardinals whiners, touching off a brawl on Aug. 10. The second baseman came up big during the weekend sweep, driving in three runs during a 7-3 win Saturday and providing the decisive hit a day later.
Ramon Hernandez also homered off Carpenter, who gave up eight runs — seven earned — in 6 1-3 innings. Hernandez hit three solo homers in the last two games of the series.
NOTES: Carpenter's last loss to the Reds was 7-0 against Eric Milton. ... It was the first time the Cardinals got swept this season. ... Berkman's homer snapped an 0-for-15 slump and gave him 22 at Great American Ball Park, the most by any visiting player. ... Reds C Ryan Hanigan is sidelined by a sore right hand, hit by a pitch on Friday night. He would have played Sunday if healthy. ... Hernandez has six homers, one shy of his total last season. ... Chapman threw 18 balls in 23 pitches. He has walked 12 batters in his last four appearances.